In This Edition:

  • Business relief money flows from programs in Columbia, Richland County
  • Data emerges on how banks delivered PPP loans, but SC small business owners still seeking answers
  • U.S. Senate ready for additional $480B in PPP funding
  • McMaster closes schools for remainder of school year
  • Updates for tariffs for South Carolina manufacturing
  • In survey, 58% of small business owners not in favor of reopening on May 1
  • Hairdressers, salon owners ponder what their new styles of operation will look like

Business Relief Money Flows from Programs in Columbia, Richland County

The Columbia City Council approved an extra $400,000 for its program of Coronavirus relief for businesses after spending almost $1 million its first round of payments, where about 220 businesses received grants of around $4,500. With more than 8,000 of these applications at least started, Columbia’s economic development director said there could already be enough candidates to claim the new funding. The grants are structured as loans, and the business must describe how the money will be spent. Columbia’s Office of Business Opportunity director said one-third of the businesses have directed the funds toward leases and rent, while one-third of businesses have spent it on salaries. Franchises of national businesses are not eligible for the program to keep the focus on local small businesses, and because of the speed with which the program operated, representatives in other states have called Columbia for advice. Richland County, with a focus on the categories of arts, entertainment, recreation, food service and retail that could miss out on federal relief money, approved its relief grants. Earmarks include $500,000 for small businesses, $500,000 for nonprofits helping with food needs and $250,000 for people unable to meet their housing or utility bills. (Post and Courier)

Data Emerges on How Banks Delivered PPP Loans, but SC Small Business Owners Still Seeking Answers

While nearly 23,000 Paycheck Protection Program loans had been approved in South Carolina by April 16 when the SBA ceased accepting applications, there are many small business owners looking for answers as to why they were left out of the $349 billion in relief. The banks CSB, Pinnacle and South State each told the Island Packet newspaper that for the next round of relief funding they plan to prioritize loan applications from small businesses that failed to receive a PPP loan during the first round of approvals. According to the president and CEO of the S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce, South Carolina has 400,000 businesses with fewer than 500 workers. South State Bank, which has locations in South and North Carolina, Georgia and Virigina, “received more than 10,000 (PPP loan) inquiries” and granted “more than half of that” for nearly $900 million in small business loans, according to its regional president for the  Beaufort area. A spokesman for Pinnacle Financial Partners, which has markets for South Carolina and four other Southern states, said about 6,000 grants were allocated out of 12,000 applications. (The Island Packet)

Roundup: U.S. Senate Ready for Additional $480B in PPP Funding; Gov. McMaster Closes Schools for Remainder of School Year; Updates for Tariffs for South Carolina Manufacturing

In this roundup of developments courtesy of the S.C. Chamber of Commerce, the Senate is set to vote on allocating more than $480 billion in relief funding, with $310 billion for PPP, $60 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loans, $75 billion in hospital assistance and $25 billion for COVID-19 testing. (S.C. Chamber of Commerce)

In Survey, 58% of Small Business Owners Not in Favor of Reopening on May 1

During an April 17-20 snap survey conducted by the Businesses for Responsible Tax Reform of 530 U.S. small business owners, 58% said May 1 was too early a date to re-open businesses, and 64% said that the government’s top priority should be stopping the spread of Coronavirus as opposed to reopening the economy. About half of respondents who have closed their businesses due to the pandemic said they were hesitant to reopen by the May 1 date, citing employee and customer safety. On the subject of PPP loans, of the 68% of respondents who reported applying, about 15% said they had received the funds. Also, 71% of respondents have less than a month’s cash reserve to operate their business. The co-chair of the Businesses for Responsible Tax Reform is Frank Knapp, CEO of the S.C. Small Business Chamber. (GSA Business Report)

Hairdressers, Salon Owners Ponder What Their New Styles of Operation Will Look Like

As South Carolina retailers are allowed to re-open, the close-contact world of hair salons and barbershops faces their many options of when they can return to work. In talks with Upstate hairstylists and salon owners, they know preventative preparation will be key, with measures such as closing wait areas, moving reception desks to outside the store, and stocking up on masks for employees and hand sanitizer. Business models for stylists can vary greatly, ranging from the salon owners to the independent contractors who are self-employed and have not received unemployment money since the governor ordered salons closed on April 1. Stylists who manage existing conditions or are in close proximity with family members in poor health are weighing their own personal risk assessments. There is also the prospect for operations that elect to stay closed that they could lose clients to competitors that reopen quicker, even though many stylists consider an essential component of their work is the role of confidante or therapist. “They often trust their stylist more than their doctor,” Keith Schrecengost, the owner of salon near downtown Greenville, said of what female customers have told him in his 25 years in the industry. (Greenville News)

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

“A lot of people needed this money. Anything helps right now.”

Melissa Lindler, director of Columbia’s Office of Business Opportunity, of the city’s business relief grant program that has already distributed almost $1 million